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INTERVIEW: New VP of Danisco Animal Nutrition Outlines Strategic Priorities Amid Surging Costs

Source: Feedindo Logo Final

13 October 2021 - In late-September, IFF’s Health & Biosciences division announced the appointment of Pauel Fokin as Vice President of the Danisco Animal Nutrition business. Fokin replaces Aart Mateboer, who moved on to become EVP Animal Nutrition for Perstorp.

Prior to this role Fokin was Global Commercial Vice President for the Pharma Solutions division at IFF. Fokin has over 25 years of international business management experience and a background in the specialty chemicals, food ingredients and pharmaceutical industries.

Upon his appointment, Pauel Fokin stated: “I am excited about the opportunities to enhance our leadership position in phytase and other feed enzymes, as well as expand our portfolio of solutions in nutritional health. I look forward to meeting our customers to understand their strategic challenges and how we can leverage the powerful science within IFF’s portfolio to create leading solutions for the animal feed industry.”

Fokin takes on this new role several months after the merger of International Flavors & Fragrances and DuPont Nutrition and Biosciences was officially completed on 1 February 2021 and that all animal nutrition activities (formerly known as Dupont Animal Nutrition) have been regrouped under Danisco Animal Nutrition.

He also starts his new function in a difficult climate of global supply chain disruption, raw material cost pressures, and other market uncertainties. Danisco Animal Nutrition has also just recently (7 October 2021) announced a price increase of up to 10% for its products with immediate effect or as contracts allow, depending on geography and product line.

Feedinfo touched base with Mr. Fokin to discuss the recent changes at Danisco Animal Nutrition, what his objectives are, and how the company is mitigating surging costs.

Pauel Fokin
Vice President
Danisco Animal Nutrition

[Feedinfo] Mr. Fokin, now that the IFF and DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences merger is complete and IFF has entered into an agreement to sell its Microbial Control business, what are the consequences for Danisco Animal Nutrition and what will be the biggest strategic projects for your division?

[Pauel Fokin] Our attention is firmly focused on creating value for our customers through science-led solutions. As such, we don’t expect any impact to our strategic focus or direction. The continued global roll out of phytase enzyme Axtra® PHY GOLD remains one of our largest strategic initiatives, along with the ongoing development of several products within our animal health portfolio.

Our objectives at Danisco Animal Nutrition are largely driven by customer needs and market trends and, as such, we expect to stay the course. This means a continued focus on poultry and swine and expansion into the ruminant market segment. We do anticipate some adjustments to our innovation portfolio, but this is a normal outcome from our stage gate management process and strategic annual review.

[Feedinfo] What kind of synergies have been found between IFF and Danisco Animal Nutrition and leveraged? What is the IFF board telling you about the future of Danisco Animal Nutrition?

[Pauel Fokin] So far, the synergies between Animal Nutrition and IFF have been understandably limited because our target markets and customers are comparatively unrelated. That said, Danisco Animal Nutrition product technology is deeply integrated into IFF’s bioactives production and research capabilities, with significant synergies across other business units, such as Home & Personal Care, Grain Processing, and Cultures & Food Enzymes. Our position in that portfolio is valued and noteworthy, with robust growth potential. We also share strong capabilities in microbiome research, so the fact that we can now leverage IFF’s market leading human applications generates new opportunities for animal health. Beyond these synergies, the IFF board is excited by our innovation potential and open to supporting our long-term strategic plan with further investment in both research and capacity.

[Feedinfo] You were most recently Global Commercial Vice President for the Pharma Solutions division at IFF. What kind of experience and alternative thinking will you be bringing to your new animal nutrition role?

[Pauel Fokin] Like Pharma, we see a strong focus on product innovation and applications development, which can lead to a very long sales cycle. A great deal of discipline is then required to ensure opportunities are managed and brought to fruition. I intend to leverage this similar experience in Pharma to bring a stronger focus to the effective development, execution and launch of new products for a robust animal health portfolio.

[Feedinfo] Upon the announcement of your appointment in the new role, you said that one of the objectives will be to expand the portfolio of solutions in nutritional health. Can you provide some specifics?

[Pauel Fokin] We continue to invest significantly in building our animal health portfolio and are constantly looking for new ways to leverage our scientific capabilities to solve pressing market challenges, such as problems associated with Necrotic Enteritis, Salmonella and E. coli. As part of this strategy, several animal trials are currently underway designed to demonstrate the efficacy and value proposition of several new product solutions. With this validation in place, we expect to be in a position to launch in the coming months.

[Feedinfo] Mr. Fokin, you also take on the role in a period of nightmarish conditions for global supply chain logistics and raw material cost pressures. How concerned is Danisco Animal Nutrition about the issue?

[Pauel Fokin] The challenges we face are daunting but certainly not unique to IFF or Danisco Animal Nutrition. It’s true that the pressure on raw materials and logistics has gone on for longer than we expected. It has also become clear that we will certainly have to pass on a portion of to our customers and channel partners. At the same time, we believe that the value created from continuing to use our proven solutions is significant compared to the next best alternative; a customer benefit that is more important than ever since feed input costs are currently at an all-time high. So, despite the difficult operating conditions, we intend to continue our investment in long-term R&D and bring high-performance products to market.

[Feedinfo] With the increased strain on supply chains, IFF - like other businesses - witnessed unprecedented cost pressure on raw materials, packaging, and logistics. Last week, you introduced an up to 10% price increase across the company’s animal nutrition product range. In 2020 and 2021, the company absorbed all additional costs, but costs have continued to surge. You told customers that you were forced to adapt in an unprecedented way. What else can you say?

[Pauel Fokin] This is the first time in many years that we have had to take such action. We’ll obviously work with our customers to minimise the impact of these increases, notably by helping them to unlock value where our products have been independently verified to deliver a performance advantage.